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SC Rules Senate Elections Can not be Held Through Open Ballot

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By Our Web Desk

ISLAMABAD– Amid intense campaigning for the Senate polls by all political parties, the Supreme Court on Monday opined that the polling for the Senate elections can not be held through an open ballot.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court — headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and comprising justices Mushir Alam, Umar Ata Bandial, Ijazul Ahsan and Yahya Afridi — announced the reserved opinion in the open court with 4-1 majority.

The apex court ruled that the Election Commission is empowered to take all the steps to ensure transparency in the polls.

“It is the responsibility of the Election Commission to end corrupt practices from the electoral process and it can utilise the technology in this regard,” the short order stated.

The apex court further said that it is up to the ECP to decide to which extent the voting should remain secret.

The court had reserved its opinion last week after all the parties had concluded their arguments and after the rebuttal of Attorney-General Khalid Javed. Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed had observed that the court will give its opinion by interpreting the provisions of the Constitution.

The reference, filed by the government in the Supreme Court, says that the president has sought the apex court’s opinion on whether the condition of holding a secret ballot referred to in Article 226 of the Constitution is applicable only for the elections held under the Constitution, such as the election to the office of president, speakers and deputy speakers of the Parliament and provincial assemblies and “not to other elections, such as the election for the members of Senate” held under the Elections Act 2017 enacted to pursuant to Article 222 read with Entry 41 (1) of the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution “which may be held by way of secret or open ballot” as provided for in the Act.